Your Guide to A/B Testing

Your Guide to A/B Testing


Using A/B Testing to Boost Your Marketing Efforts

A/B testing is an effective strategy for determining the best online marketing strategies for your business. Here's how you can use an A/B test to drive more revenue.

What is A/B Testing?

Also known as split testing, A/B testing is a comparison process, during which you expose your target audience to a pair of distinct web landing pages. Based on audience behavior in relation to each sample, you can make clear assessments about each page's performance. You can then make targeted improvements to optimize conversion rates.

How Do You Do It?

To effectively perform an A/B test, you will need to develop two different versions of a landing page and determine an effective method for assessing visitor behavior for each. Most importantly, however, you will need an audience.

The success of any A/B test largely depends on the sample size of the audience. You simply cannot gain confident insight into the performance of a single page based on the behavior of ten to 20 people. To make sure your aren't making any rash, knee-jerk reactions, you will either need to find a way to attain a large pool of visitors quickly or be patient enough to wait days, weeks or months for an adequate amount of visitors to trickle in.

Why A/B Testing Helps

An A/B test can boost a campaign by removing uncertainty. It can also help you decide if you should strive for just one primary conversion goal or multiple goals. A/B testing can help you decide which message and design elements connect best with your target audience. It can also take the confusion out of certain conversion scenarios. For instance, let's say one landing page attracts far more subscribers than another: This may sound like a clear success; however, if your A/B testing shows that these subscribers rarely convert to sales, you can go back and compare each page's performance to determine which one is actually driving the most revenue.

Gathering Data

Once you have your audience, your "A" page and your "B" page, you will need some way to monitor performance. Unfortunately, many small business owners regard data analysis as far too technical. There are a number of services that will perform an A/B test in return for fees. On the other hand, if you are working on a tight budget, you can utilize Google Analytics to gather all sorts of helpful data. That said, because the data is relatively raw, you will have to invest a good amount of time determining the best way to interpret information.

There are a number of other advantages and disadvantages that come with using Google Analytics for A/B testing, including:

  • The Pros

    • There is no cost

    • The interface is relatively simple and intuitive

    • Includes a “Goals” feature for more seamless tracking of business targets

    • Huge data pool

    • Integrates with many other analysis features

    • Offers quick, efficient multi-armed bandit testing

  • The Cons

    • Since the data is raw, it can be a bit confusing

    • Does not offer the same multivariate testing options that come with paid services

    • Hard to utilize on dynamic landing pages

    • Cannot integrate any additional data sources

    • Does not include a visual-based editor

If you are a hands-on business owner with a small budget, Google Analytics can be a powerful tool that can help you perform a solid A/B test. If, on the other hand, you hate parsing data or have an especially complex A/B test in mind, you may want to consider paying for a service.  

How Else Can You Leverage A/B Testing?

In addition to web landing pages, an A/B test can also provide valuable insight into email marketing campaigns. You can use A/B testing to assess the effectiveness of subject lines, calls to action, content, layouts and pretty much anything else that plays a role in determining conversion rates. Just remember to make sure you have a large enough sample size before making any changes to your marketing strategy.

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